FULL-TIME: Cambridge United 2 Hartlepool United 1. Late header sinks Pools

Paul Murray looks on as Hartlepool United go down to defeat at Cambridge today. Picture by Frank Reid

Paul Murray looks on as Hartlepool United go down to defeat at Cambridge today. Picture by Frank Reid

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NEW boss Paul Murray suffered an agonising first day as Hartlepool United boss after Harrison Dunk headed in a late Cambridge winner.

Pools, who started today’s trip to the Abbey Stadium in the relegation zone, were off the pace in the first 45 minutes.

Ex-Pools loanee Ryan Donaldson gave Cambridge a deserved lead in the 26th minute, the Geordie, who managed no goals in 12 appearances at Pools, finishing well.

But Pools were a side transformed after the break.

And they were level on the hour, Brad Walker blasting his shot past Chris Dunn after being set up by sub Marlon Harewood.

Pools were much more effective in the second half and had several periods of possession and pressure.

But they were undone two minutes from time when Josh Coulson’s flick on was headed in by Dunk.

Murray made four changes when he named his first Pools XI today.

The former midfielder, appointed Pools boss on Thursday, took a training session yesterday at Peterborough and took his place in the dug out at Cambridge United today.

Sam Collins returned to the side following his stint as caretaker boss, joining Scott Harrison in the centre of defence with Neil Austin switching to left back.

Murray plumped for a 4-3-3 formation with Tommy Miller in the centre of midfield alongside Matt Crooks and Brad Walker.

Charlie Wyke was picked to spearhead the attack, flanked by Ryan Brobbel and Jonathan Franks.

Matthew Bates was ruled out with a calf strain with Dan Jones, Michael Woods and Lewis Hawkins moved down to the bench.

Pools: Flinders (capt), Duckworth, Harrison, Collins, Austin; Crooks, Miller, Walker; Brobbel, Wyke, Franks. Subs: Holden, Harewood, Woods, Hawkins, Richards, Jones, Smith

Cambridge: Dunn, Tait, Coulson, Taylor, Donaldson, Champion (capt), Hughes, Chadwick; Appiah, Elliott. Subs: Norris, Dunk, Lanzoni, Simpson, Lennon, Bird, Naylor.

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Pools clearly came out determined to impress Murray but Matt Crooks was perhaps too keen, felling Richard Tait after three seconds.

The opening stages were all Cambridge with Pools struggling to get any possession.

Cambridge forced two corners in the first five minutes and had two lively strikers in Kwesi Appiah and Tom Elliott whio were causing problems.

Pools only moment of promise came when Brad Walker played a diagonal ball for the on-rushing Crooks but pink-clad keeper Chris Dunn came out sharply to deny the midfielder.

Despite that, Pools barely saw the ball with all the threat coming at the away end.

Cambridge were a constant danger but when Elliott crossed for Appiah in the 24th minute his tame header was easily collected by Scott Flinders.

But a goal looked inevitable and so it proved.

Collins and Harrison could not deal with a ball through the middle and DONALDSON took advantage, firing a right-foot shot into Flinders right corner.

Cambridge should have made it 2-0 straight away, but Elliott took an age to cross with Pools in disarray and the visitors cleared briefly with Chadwick then shooting weakly at Flinders.

Pools began to improve and they had to.

Crooks saw a deflected shot produce a Pools corner while afurther corner followed after good work by Wyke, Austin and Brobbel.

However, nothing came from either flag-kick.

As the half wore on Pools at least settled and began to see more of the ball, but they could not threaten in the final third.

Half-time

Cambridge 1

Pools 1

Murray introduced Marlon Harewood at the start of the second half, the experienced striker replacing Brobbel.

Harewood made an immediate impact, winning a corner but Cambridge cleared and threatened at the other end where Duckworth needed to head behind for a corner.

Pools won amother corner in the 49th minute but Collins could not connect cleanly with Franks’ delivery from the left.

Walker tried his luck from distance, forcing Dunn to shovel the ball over his bar. And from Franks’ corner, Walker’s header was nodded off the line by Tait.

With Harewood lively up front, Pools were beginning to impress.

And when the equaliser came it was certainly impressive as WALKER thumped home after good work from Harewood.

Pools were not only level with half an hour to go, the hosts were no longer the force they were in the first half.

Murray made his final two subs, bringing on Connor Smith and Michael Woods for Franks and Crooks.

There was a minor fright for Pools when Donaldson swung in a testing free-kick but Elliott was pulled up for a foul on Flinders.

Pools seemed to be defending with determination and looked in no real danger.

But with less than three minutes on the clock, DUNK got on the end of a flick on to head past Flinders from close range.

Walker had a shot through a crowded goalmouth in the third minute of four added minutes but Dunn went down well to save comfortably.

Full-time:

CAMBRIDGE UTD 2

HARTLEPOOL UTD 1